Rm: 3506 Bioscience Complex
Tel: (613) 533-6130
Faculty Web Site: http://www.queensu.ca/biology/people/faculty/nelson.html
RESEARCH AREA/POTENTIAL PROJECTS
Our research centers around theoretical and experimental aspects of evolutionary ecology. In particular, I am interested in understanding how the feedback between ecological and short-term evolutionary processes influences population and community dynamics, determines genetic and species diversity, and ultimately the evolutionary fate of coupled predator-prey systems.
Much of our experimental work uses freshwater zooplankton, which is an interesting system to study because, like many organisms, they display strong phenotypic plasticity in individual life-history. For example, as prey become scarce in predator-prey communities, predators often experience lower birth rates, slower growth rates, and higher death rates. If prey populations fluctuate through space or time, then predator life-histories also fluctuate. The interaction between these flexible life-histories of individuals and the dynamics of populations and communities can strongly influence both ecological and evolutionary dynamics.
In terms of research approach, our lab uses a combination of mathematical biology and experimentation at both laboratory microcosm and field-based mesocosm scales. Our pursuits in mathematical biology involve forward analytical and numerical approaches, as well as inverse statistical methods. Ultimately, our goal is to understand how important eco-evolutionary feedbacks may be for determining the patterns of diversity observed in natural systems, thus we work towards answering the more challenging question of how important these are in natural systems. Please visit http://post.queensu.ca/~nelsonw/Index.html for further details.
STARTING DATE: TBA